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review 2017-08-09 02:30
The Moonlit Garden (Audiobook)
The Moonlit Garden - Alison Layland,Corina Bomann

This was a pleasant surprise! Especially for an Amazon First selection since usually those books are not that great. This is translated into English, but I didn't notice any awkward phrasing to the translation was well done. 


I wasn't sure what I was getting into with this one, except that at some point there'd a moonlit garden :D so I was just going along for the ride and it was a good one. Lily owns an antique shop in Berlin and one day an old man comes in, hands her an old violin, tells her it's hers and leaves. The rest of the book goes back and forth between Lily trying to solve the mystery of the violin and Rose, the violin's original owner, a master violinist in the earliest part of the 1900s.


There's enough left out in the historical parts to keep the mystery moving in the current timeline. It's just nice to have a mystery that doesn't revolve around murder for a change, and trying to figure out how all the pieces fit together. And while parts of this take place in England and Germany, a good chunk of it takes place in Sumatra, Indonesia, which was also a nice change of pace as I don't often come across books set in Asia.


The narrator has kind of a soft voice but it didn't bother me too much. I do wish she had more range in her voices, especially for the men since despite some slight differences to their accents, it was difficult to tell them apart because they all sounded so similar. She does a somewhat better job differentiating the female voices. 

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review 2017-01-18 04:06
To Kill a Mockingbird
To Kill a Mockingbird (Perennial classics) - Harper Lee

Life in the 30s in the South. The "good ole days". Yeah, riiiight.


Actually, narrating this from Scout's POV allows for a lot of innocence of childhood to shine through, and it's optimistic even Scout is making scathing observations and comments on the hypocrisies and bigotry of the times.


I originally read this in high school, like I'm sure a lot of people did, and while it made an impact then, I had largely forgotten a lot about the story aside from Boo Radley and the trial. So I was surprised by how little those actually came into the story, which mostly chronicles Scout and Jem's childhood and summers for the two years leading up to that fateful day in 1935 when Tom Robinson was put on trial. There was never a doubt what the outcome would be, but seeing Jem's hope and absolute certainty, Dill's anger at the injustice of the cross-examination and Scout's struggles to understand what all these big events around her meant in the larger picture gave it a focal point to highlight how not innocent these so-called "simpler and easier" times actually were.


I was much more uncomfortable with the casual racism on display by our protags than I was by the outright bigotry of the Ewells and others in town. I had forgotten how prevalent it was in the book.


The world needs more Atticus Finches, and more respect for our mockingbirds, in whatever form they come.

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review 2016-09-08 03:19
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Audiobook)
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Audio) - Sherman Alexie

I don't even know what to say about this book. It's funny, it's poignant, it's raw and it's honest. 15-year old Arnold had to fight from the time he was born with a brain disorder and had to keep fighting. He's a Native American, he's the odd one out, and he realizes that to change his fate he has to do something few Natives on his reservation have done - leave it. He convinces his parents to send him to the main school - the white school. And he has to fight for respect there too. 


Alongside the issues that most teens have to deal with - first girlfriend, high school sports, that elusive thing called popularity - Arnold also has to deal with poverty, alcoholism of nearly everyone around him, and the deaths of friends and family. The stark realities of his life are often told in humorous ways, and I laughed a lot more during this book than I expected, and I teared up a few times too, often within a couple of minutes of each other. 


Sherman Alexie narrates this with the perfect balance of irony and sincerity. The audiobook "chapters" are split up by time, since they're all roughly 30 minutes, sometimes even splitting diary entries between two chapters, so I ended up waiting for diary entry titles for stopping points. 

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review 2016-02-09 06:16
Cry, the Beloved Country
Cry, the Beloved Country - Alan Paton

This book is depressing, and hopeful, and depressingly hopeful. When Paton wrote this, apartheid was still a few years away from becoming reality, but you can see the roots of it here as Kumalo leaves his village and goes into the city of Johannesburg to look for his sister and son. He finds himself caught in the rift of racial strife and oppression, even as he preaches love and acceptance. Jarvis, a white man, is caught in the same position but from the other side. Where hate could easily tear these two apart, they come together instead in understanding. It's a powerful story, but the hopeful ending is even more cruel and depressing knowing what's looming so close and near in South Africa. 


The prose is lyrical and while there are no quotation marks used, it was easy to follow who was speaking and when. The lack of punctuation also made it feel like the whole book was being told to you, rather than simply reading it, if that makes sense. 

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review 2016-01-09 04:17
The Bourne Ultimatum (Jason Bourne #3)
The Bourne Ultimatum - Robert Ludlum

Bourne finally gets the bad guy and it's mostly ridiculous.

Marie's still alive.

(spoiler show)


Anyway, I read these first three books in this series a few years back because I was curious how they compared to the movies. Also, I was bored. I was living at my parents' house at the time while construction lingered on my condo, and they didn't have internet at the time, which meant I was cut off from all my usual haunts and looking for anything to fill the time.


As I said in my review for the first book, they have virtually nothing in common with the movies aside from Bourne, and even he's a different character here. I don't care much for Ludlum's writing style, so I didn't continue with the rest of the books in this series. (Yes, I know someone else took over the series after Ludlum's passing, but that's technically fan fic.)


Think I'm gonna go watch the movies again.

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